Location: Lake Proserpine, Peter Faust Dam
Lake Proserpine, otherwise known as Peter Faust Dam, is legendary for big freshwater Barramundi. Even the walls of the reception in our local accommodation Camp Kanga are covered in photos of PB catches of between 100 and 140cm. Filled with anticipation I set off with two of my best mates and our fathers for a weekend of nailing these true giants of the north.
We had 2 nights booked at the camp which gave us three days fishing on the lake. The accomodation is basic, but has everything a keen fisherman/woman could want. Rooms have three single beds, a small bar fridge, and a fan. Linen is not supplied so bring a pillow, sheets, and a sleeping bag. We could pull the car and boat up beside our room and a conveniently placed power point on the back of the building allowed me to charge my batteries overnight (BYO extension lead). All rooms share a common kitchen, dinning and lounge room. Eating utensils are provided, just make sure to wash them after use. The kitchen has a kettle and microwave while there are a couple of BBQ's located between the rooms. Both male and female toilets/showers are provided.
Image provided by Camp Kanga
We arrived with enough light on Friday afternoon to quickly check in at the accommodation before hitting the water. The whole weekend we experienced beautiful conditions with hardly a breath of wind. It was hard to navigate with the fading sun, having never been to the area before. We chose to stick with what we knew, flicking lures and soft plastics at trees along the bank using our electric motor. We didn't have any luck fishing, but were treated to a killer sunset.
In this shot: Matthew Robinson // instagram
After the sun went down, it proved too difficult to continue so we took the advice of local angler Lindsay from Barramundi Fishing Charters and trolled 5 to 8 metre deep diving lures through the open water directly in front of the boat ramp and around the dam wall. Although this didn't pay off for us, a couple of guys from the camp had found success with the tactic landing some barra over 120cm. You can find Lindsay at the Proserpine Bait and Tackle Store for recommendations on what's getting the bite. If you are heading there on a Friday afternoon like us, be aware the store shuts at 5:30pm.
We all set out early the next morning (some earlier than others), returning for an extended lunch plus a nap before heading back out until late that evening. Dad and I spent most of the day just getting our bearings on the lake. I'd seen videos online of others having success mostly in the mass of dead tree stumps located all up one side, and then across the back of the lake. We set to work flicking as much of this country as we could. We tried all types of diving, suspending and surface lures but to no avail. I'm the first to admit we had no idea what we were doing.
To be honest after a full day on the water without so much as a hit the morale was pretty low. The only thing we had to keep us going was the knowledge that if we did hook up, it would be a great fish. We persevered with trolling the open water and dam wall long into the night, trying nearly all my lures and varied speed however once again we admitted defeat.
Upon return to camp we found out that 1 of our 6 man crew had been successful, nailing a 100cm barramundi on the troll back to the boat ramp using a 6" Mad Mullet 2.5m shallow diver.
In this shot: Scott Lawton // instagram
Setting out on our final morning I was anxious to land a fish. We chose to ditch the trees and focus on the tactic that landed the fish the previous night. We found a long patch of weed beds ranging from 4 to 9 metres deep, I trolled the same 6" Mad Mullet 2.5 metre shallow diving lure while Dad chose the closest alternative he had.
We trolled unsuccessfully for a few hours until finally, after much anticipation, the sound of my screaming drag rang around the valley. I had upgraded my leader from 40lb mono to a 60lb flurocarbon, so I was pretty confident I had the fish in the bag as long as the trebles held strong. My poor excuse for a landing net proved too small for the 98cm Barramundi and she nearly escaped when I lifted her into the boat but finally we had landed a fish.
I was stoked to have caught this amazing specimen even though she didn't quite make the metre mark. After a quick photo opportunity, and a short swimming, I released her back into the lake.
Within 10 minutes of landing my fish Dad hooked up to a massive Barramundi doing a second pass on the same beds. Unfortunately the trebles were too small and the barra's head shake too strong. At least the moment was captured perfectly on camera.
In this shot: Martin Robinson // facebook
It wasn't all bad. Seeing a fish of that size breach the water was amazing and it was followed very quickly by this massive 52cm Sooty Grunter (Black Bream). It was the largest of the species I've ever seen and was caught using the same technique.
In this shot: Martin Robinson // facebook
The rest of our crew had multiple hook ups during the morning and one other 96cm Barramundi was landed. At the end of the trip there was only a few fish caught between us, but it was a great opportunity for those who caught these amazing fish and I will be heading back there again to try my luck at something a little bigger.
For another perspective on the trip, and some more photos, see the blog post on Budget Travel Talk
Please note: A Stocked Impoundment Permit (SIP) is required to fish Lake Proserpine. Pricing starts at $7.70 per single/defacto couple per week. Applying for a permit online is dead simple - https://www.smartservice.qld.gov.au/services/permits/fishing/apply